Facebook referral traffic drop may mean exit from news: CNN
In recent years, the amount of traffic has decreased significantly on the platform that was once ridden with viral articles.
More than a half-dozen publishers told CNN that Facebook has secretly implemented modifications in recent months that have drastically cut referral traffic to media publications. The shift has significantly reduced daily traffic for publications, with the impact appearing to be particularly evident among those who write more hard news-oriented content.
One executive at a media company anonymously revealed that “if you’re a major publisher, you’ve gotten nicked,” with two publishers citing 30% and 40% drops in referral traffic.
“Facebook nuked everyone’s traffic,” one news-focused publisher told CNN, citing that the platform recently tweaked its algorithm to solve the issue but to no avail.
In recent years the amount of traffic has decreased significantly on the platform that was once ridden with viral articles.
Meta declined to comment, but publishers believe it is obvious that the company is looking to leave the news business world.
The exit comes at a time when global legislators are increasingly intent on forcing tech giants like Meta to reimburse publishers for the content they post on their platforms. As a result, Facebook has warned that it will pull news content from countries that enact such legislation. Earlier this year, Meta pulled news from its platform in Canada following the country’s passage of similar legislation, a decision that sparked fierce criticism.
Meta has long claimed that publishers rely on Facebook more than Facebook relies on publishers, stating in March that is was not a "substantial part of Facebook globally," adding that less than 3% of posts in people's Facebook Feeds had links to news articles.
News is also a messy business for Meta due to misleading and inaccurate posts.
Meta’s logic is that dealing with these thorny issues—which have landed Zuckerberg and others in front of Congress as they are accused of being “censored”—is simply not worth the effort.
A Meta executive who oversees Instagram, Adam Mosseri, reiterated the idea when he stated that Threads is "not going to do anything to encourage" news and politics on the platform.
Mosseri wrote that “politics and hard news are important, I don’t want to imply otherwise,” however "any incremental engagement or revenue they might drive is not at all worth the scrutiny, negativity (let’s be honest), or integrity risks that come along with them.”
Publishers also believe Meta is hesitant to push users offsite because it wants to control the advertising space. For example, in Canada, publishers are asking the country's competition regulator to investigate whether Meta is harming their ability to compete effectively.
Meta's struggles to keep up with TikTok have also forced the company to open up more space on its platforms to short-form videos, pushing news even further away.
One of the publishers stated that “News publishers are going through three bubbles bursting at the same time,” explaining: "One is no one cares about [Donald] Trump anymore; two, the pandemic is over; and now Facebook is gone.”